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By Phil Hall | January 5, 2006

In case you are wondering why so few Colombian movies are in American theatrical release, take a peek at “El Carro.” Better yet, don’t take a peek at it – I’ve already suffered so you don’t have to.

This thoroughly obnoxious and relentlessly unfunny comedy follows a struggling middle-class Bogota family who succumbs to envy, materialism and crass stupidity when their neighbors win a brand new automobile from a raffle ticket which the family declined to buy when their youngest daughter was selling tickets for a school project. The father (Cesar Badillo, sort of a Colombian Gilbert Gottfried) reacts to the neighbors’ good fortune by locking himself in a bathroom, screaming and stuffing toilet paper in his mouth. When the neighbors (a black couple who are referred to as “the brownish ones”) offer to sell the family their broken-down old Chevy convertible, the family sinks all of their money into the vehicle. And while their new/old car has a bright cherry red exterior, its soul is strictly lemon yellow.

There is not a single honest-to-goodness laugh to be found in this movie, which mistakes vituperative bickering with comic dialogue. The characters become shrill, tiresome and monotonous almost immediately, although Diego Cadavid (playing the teenage son) manages to generate in a few silly laughs for playing a typically h***y kid who talks a great game but never actually scores. Beyond that young actor, “El Carro” is strictly out of gas.

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